Sunday, October 16, 2011

Was the Weimar Rebublic Doomed To Fail?

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Assessment What were the strengths and weaknesses of the Weimar Republic (118-1)? Was it doomed to failure?


The Weimar Republic was born in the aftermath of the First World War. The creators of the Republic were blame, rididculed and labelled for the defeat of Germany during World War One and for accepting the crippling terms of the Traety of Versailles. Weimar Germany was to have a short, tumultou history. Yet under normal circumstances would it have survived? Was Weimar Germany destined to failure from the outset, doomed from the start? World War One ended when it became clear that no one could win. If they were to continue on fighting, everyone had a lot to lose. Germany had become increasingly unsettled. The Kaiser abdicated in 118 because Germany had lost the war and the victors, Britain and France would not sign a peace treaty unless Germany set up a new democratic system of government. They saw the Kaiser and his way of ruling as being a major reason for Germany starting the war. The Kaiser fled the country and went to live in Holland. On 4 October 118, the new government - led by Max von Baden - decided that enough was enough. They needed to sort out their own affairs and decided that they couldnt possibly win this war. They asked the American President, Woodrow Wilson for a ceasefire. On 11 November 118, an armistice was signed at Compiegne in France.


Germany had to create a government that the Allies would be prepared to negotiate with, so Hindenburg ordered a government, which had the support of the Reichstag. In June 11 at the Hall of Mirrors the Treaty of Versailles was signed. The ‘November Criminals� who signed the Treaty of Versailles went on to run the country, and the ‘Stab in the Back Myth � left the public with a sense of betrayal and a bitter resentment towards the Republic itself.


In August 11 a new constitution called the Weimar Republic, lead by Ebert, was adopted. This was the first constitution in Germany that used proportional representation and Article 48. The new constitution enabled that all Germans had equal rights including voting. All people over 0 years of age could vote. This was new to Germany, as they had never experienced Democracy before. The Weimar Republic was not based on strong public convictions, which must, in part, explain its weakness. Then later the Weimar Republic experienced a collapse of German democracy.


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The constitution itself was flawed; it contained within it the its own destruction. Article 48 was to provide future abuse; this was used to appoint the last four Chancellors of the Republic, including Hitler. As Germany lacked in experience with democracy, it was far too democratic, and many groups did not support such a great amount of Democracy in Germany. The system of proportion representation made it easy for anti-democratic parties such as the KPD and the Nazi Party to gain seats in the Reichstag and the chances for any party gaining a majority support in the Reichstag was minimal. With a Republic run by the people who had ‘betrayed� the country and a constitution that was flawed, a loyalty to the Republic had been formed. This encouraged political instability and frequent elections. The President had too much power; this could result into him becoming a dictator. Another flaw with the constitution is that the states could become hostile and attempt to overthrow the national government. Political opponents lead to political violence. Groups from both the extreme left, like the Spartacists and the extreme right, for example the NSDAP, Nazi Party, opposed the Weimar Republic. Both sides were opposed to the idea of a Republic. Those on the left - communists and the like - had no respect for the government and the success of Lenin in Russia had boosted their self-belief. Those on the right - former soldiers still bitter about the Armistice and the defeat in the war - also had no respect for the government as it had betrayed them. Royalists, who wanted the Kaiser back, had no respect for the government, as it had been the Social Democrats who had told the Kaiser to abdicate. On top of this, the civilian population was still suffering from the affects of the war. In January 11 Spartacist members staged an attempted revolution in Berlin. The Freikorps crushed it. Ebert dealt with the situation but had to put the Government into the hands of the Army and Freikorps. In March 10, the Freikorps took over Berlin. The government had to leave the city. The Freikorps were lead by Wolfgang Kapp - a right wing nationalist who hated the government for signing the Versailles Treaty. This incident is called the Kapp Putsch. In 1 Hitler staged an uprising, in which he was imprisoned for. The harsh conditions of the Treaty of Versailles angered Germans everywhere and many directed their resentment at the Weimar government who signed the Treaty. This was actually quite unfair, because they really had very little choice but to sign. The new Government was blamed for accepting the humiliating Treaty. The Treaty also meant that there was territorial loss. Those that lived in the selected parts were angry to become part of Germany again. It became more unpopular as it tried to deal with reparations, which came to a staggering 660 billion Marks. This was much too adventurous for Germany. The reparation repayments caused much distress to Germany and her citizens. One solution was to print more money; this lead to hyperinflation where money was virtually worthless. Millions of Germans saw their savings disappear. Things became even worse in 1 when Germany stopped paying reparations. The French army occupied the Ruhr and seized Germanys coalfields-this lead to even more unemployment. The Germans put Passive resistance into practise. The majority of Germany had no savings, no money for food and were unemployed-the Country was in chaos.


The new constituation, tried to create a fair and democratic society for Germnany, and its democracy would be advantageous. The fact that the constitution was a new start for Germany acted as a strength. This was a chance to put a democratic Germany into practise and it could’ve been provided as useful. The Weimar Republic was intended to create a genuine democracy, and it had political support. Weimar Germany from 14 to 1 is referred to either as the Golden Age of Weimar or the Stresemann Years. In 1 Stresmann became chancellor and help over come many of the problems faced by Germany. He was willing to call off Passive resistance as the policy was bankrupting Germany. In October Germany resumed reparation repayments and a new temporary currency, the Rentenmark., was introduced. This stabilised the value of German money. By strictly restricting the amount of currency in circulation, Germany, in the following year, introduced a permanent currency, called to Reichsmark. Through the Dawes Plan Germany was lent 88 million marks by the USA to invest in industry and commerce. This meant that the economy was beginning to recover. In 14 Germany went to London and agreed reparation amounts. France retreated out of the Ruhr so Germany reclaimed their coalmines and more, but still few, jobs were available. In 15 Germany signed the Larnaco Pact-which was an agreement with allies. In September 16 Germany became full members of the League of Nations. Germanys problems based on economic and political crisis were beginning to improve. Weaknesses of the opposed left wing and right wing extremist parties reinforced the constitution.


The Weimar Republic experienced severe problems from its start. From the beginning the new government was blamed for accepting the Humiliating Treaty of Versailles, which everyone in Germany hated. There was much bitterness and resentment towards the new government from both the left wing and right wing.


Germany was in anarchy, which eventually lead to the collapse of German democracy. Though Stresemann was able to stabilise many of Germanys problems, he was unable to solve them all. For example, many people wanted to reject the Treaty of Versailles completely and unemployment was still a large problem for Germany. In the end it was the actions of the people at the top that reinforced the collapse of popular confidence in the democracy. In my opinion, I think that in normal circumstances the Weimar Republic would have survived. The end of World War One and the Treaty of Versailles was at the root of all of Germanys problems between 118-1. The war and treaty lead to economic disasters such as hyperinflation and Germany also experienced political violence. The Weimar Republic was an introduction to democracy to Germany, and without the problems subjected from the War and Treaty, the fresh start and new democratic ideas could’ve created a stable and fair Germany. The Government would supply a range of views and as more people could now vote there would be a greater input from the people of Germany-making it a Government for them. However, due to the problems forced onto the New Government, from the outcome of World War One it made it very difficult for the Weimar Republic to recover and become the successful Government they hoped to be. The outcome of the circumstances contributed to the demise of the Weimar Republic, causing it to be burdened to failure.





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